The Twilight Saga: Eclipse Reviews
The vampire and werewolf love saga has been bitterly disappointing so far with a dull first instalment and a hideously depressing second. Add to this some excruciatingly painful running times of over two hours and you have death by celluloid.
But perhaps I'm being a little unfair; this third instalment has been based on perhaps the most exciting book of the four in the series so it already has a good starting point and some convincing performances from the actors really do make this film a huge leap ahead of what preceded it.
The storyline to this film is pretty much non-existent but director David Slade does a good job of turning zilch into another depressing, but well made two hour love fest. Robert Pattinson (Edward Cullen), Kristen Stewart (Bella Swan) and Taylor Lautner (Jacob) return as the three main leads and their love triangle becomes even more confusing this time around, with frowning faces and awkward kisses galore. Add to this an army of newborn vampires ready to rip the very flesh of Bella Swan's bones and it's getting pretty tense down in Forks.
Sadly, even with a whole army of vampires and werewolves fighting in the finale, this small increase in action doesn't take away from the fact that the film drags in more than one place with blocks of dialogue that feel as if they're going to last a lifetime. It's unfortunate as the action pieces look excellent and the CGI, especially in the werewolves has improved leaps and bounds between New Moon and Eclipse. This shamefully vain dialogue with unnecessary close-ups of Robert Pattinson's face, Kristen Stewart's eyelashes and Taylor Lautner's chest are surely there just to appeal to the female fans and do nothing to progress the story.
It is these main three characters that hinder the film; their stilted dialogue and mediocre acting overshadow the rest of the cast who are all superb. Newcomer Bryce Dallas Howard playing red head vampire Victoria is seriously underused along with the whole Cullen flock who are not given enough room to breathe between the heavy central dialogue. Their acting is fantastic, why not use them more? Thankfully, it isn't all tears before bedtime with some well-timed comic humour from Bella's dad, Charlie. Played by Billy Burke, he is the only character of the used variety that leaps off the screen and he does so well, playing to his strengths as an actor.
Overall, Eclipse moves the game on but only very slowly. David Slade has crafted a beautifully shot movie with some excellent action pieces; but it still remains dull as ditch water because of bland performances from the lead cast and chunky dialogue. It's bound to please fans but biggest film of the year? I think we'll be seeing a certain boy wizard holding that honour for 2010.
Bryce Howard was all wrong as Victoria. She kept dwelling on her vulnerability and grief, which completely undermined her effectiveness as a villain. Her plan was assinine too. If I was hatching a plan that was trying to work around a clairvoyant on my enemies' side, here's what it would look like: Step 1: Kill Alice. Step 2: Restrain Edward. Step 3: Kill Bella in front of Edward. Step 4: Watch and laugh as Edward kills himself. This movie is like the Puss-Weeds Parade: a whole bunch of navel-gazing, whimpering simpering saps stumbling over thier lines, thier emotions and each other. It kills me how many people are willing to throw themselves between a bullet and Bella Swan, a girl who never does anything for anybody, and whose only discernable characteristics are her clumsiness and her drooling love for Edward. Seriously, she defines herself through him the way fanatical muslims define themselves through Islam: I wonder what Edward is doing right now, I wonder what Edward would think of this, Edward said this the other day, I know Edward can protect me, blah blah blah. What the fuck is wrong with you? Jacob is even worse, with his stalking, sulking, leering and pathetic obsession. "I will love you until you stop breathing"? What the hell does that mean? That's some Slipknot shit right there. I'm not kidding, "I will kill you to love you" are the lyrics of Iowa. The one and only bright spot in this movie is Xavier Samuel, who you might remember getting his ass handed to him in The Loved Ones. The poor guy must have thought he was in an actual horror movie, because he behaves like a badass, vampire ringleader should. He's quite intimidating at times, radiating the sort of angry evil bloodlust that characterizes the essence of the monster he's playing. He's pretty easy on the eyes to boot. He must die! There are no vampires allowed in this movie. This is Twilight.
* 1 Star
And listen, I know the three star rating is probably sort of confounding. It confounds me too, because this is not and has never been a good series. The characters are vacant, the plot implausible, and Stephenie Meyer's mythology should have humiliated her right out of the young adult ring. But this movie actually has a spark. Maybe it's David Slade's direction that deserves credit - his fight scenes are worlds better than the disasters we saw in New Moon, and his colors and cinematography are much more tightly controlled. Perhaps spending a total of six hours with this collection of nitwits has somehow endeared me to them, in a way that a brain damaged puppy would almost surely be endearing. They're floundering, but what else can they possibly do? Or it may even be that the series, after its woefully empty second chapter, has actually hit some semblance of dramatic stride. There are actual stakes now, lives in the balance; it isn't just about Bella hesitating, Edward being cryptic for no real reason other than enigmatic affect, and Jacob being boring. Well, it's still about Jacob being boring, but that will never change. Stephenie Meyer has finally managed to transpose Bella into a situation so clearly bigger than her, to where her overwhelmed feelings become entirely understandable. As an audience proxy, she's never been used better, actually eliciting some degree of empathy.
This is almost invariably going to be the high point of the series, but even with the earnest efforts of everyone involved, it's still the best work that a set of cheap tools can possibly make. After evaluating its strengths objectively, they simply don't seem like enough to keep me around, and yet I stay. It's not an issue of schadenfreude, because there's really very little humor to be found in the idiocy of the Twilight saga. At this point, I think for me it's reached a perverse need to understand the allure of this series. For the first time, I was actually taken a step closer to that goal. In the midst of a hackneyed war between vampires and werewolves, Meyer found a reasonable human center, and even if I can't relate to it entirely, I at least know why many of this series' fans do.
I have a feeling that this right here is the strongest that "Twilight" will ever get. Fans be thankful.